CES 2011 Wrap Up

Jan. 26, 2011
Watch Electronic Design's Bill Wong and Joe Desposito bring you up to date on CES 2011.

Razer Hydra controller is based on Sixense TruMotion

Greenplug's delivers smart power management hub

CES 2011 is back to normal. It was packed with vendors and attendees. The overall tone was extremely up beat. Joe Desposito and I spent most of our time in the backrooms to find out what will be coming up this year and what is inside the products on display at CES 2011. Luckily we did videos of most meetings so you can see what we saw. Just check out Engineering TV CES 2011 videos for a complete list. I'll try to provide links for related videos but we were still in the process or posting them when I wrote these articles.

What we didn't hit were many of the products you probably saw on the news channels. This includes the plethora of 3D HDTVs, dozens of Android tablets and e-readers, and laptops galore. In many ways, CES is more an affirmation rather than a place to look for surprises, unless you look behind the scenes. Even Steve Ballmer's keynote that mentioned Windows on the Arm platform had been anticipated. It was more an affirmation that Arm is moving out of the mobile market as well as how important the mobile market is. Likewise, it shows how Windows CE and its many subsequent incarnations has been more of a niche compared to its x86 counterpart. Of course, matching the success of Windows is not easy but that is for another article.

It was fun to walk the floor and see what was on display. 3D has not taken the industry by storm but this is really a chicken and egg problem. The best examples of 3D displays were smartphones and tablets with displays that did not require glasses. The same type of technology is being applied to larger displays but there are significant challenges including the number of viewing points.

There was plenty of automotive add-ons and a couple cars floating around including a real Nissan Leaf. Ford used CES to announce the Ford Focus Electric. General Motors even had one of their EN-V's (see "GM Segways Into 2 Wheel Concept") on display. Unfortunately most of the vehicles were not moving.

To make things easier, I collected some of the products I saw into groups so I could target an article for each category. Check out these articles but don't forget to finish this one because I cover those technologies that did not fit in these articles.

Not everything fit into one of the above groups so I will highlight them here.

Game Play With Magnetic Pointers

I covered Sixense's TruMotion when the technology was first released (see Sixense Sensor Provides Real 3D Positioning). It is based on magnetics and provides absolute position and orientation information. It uses a base station that has an Analog Devices DSP. The base station generates a magnetic field. The controllers detect the field and the DSP handles the computations to determine position information.

The Razer Hydra controller (Fig. 1) implements TruMotion. The demo we saw at CES 2011 (watch Portal 2 Demo Using Sixense Razer Hydra Motion Controllers) shows what kinds of features can be implemented in a game to take advantage of the more detailed positioning information the controllers can provide. It is a lot more fun compared to what we saw last year (watch Sixense's Truemotion Control System). Look for the Razer Hydra and Portal 2 in a game store soon.

Digital Green Power

GreenPlug was showing off a universal charging system (see Processor Manages Green Power). Yes, I know USB is going to be the wave of the future for smartphones but even USB 3.0 doesn't have the power to charge heavy duty devices like laptops. USB chargers might handle some tablets but even that is pushing the envelope.

The trick is getting just enough power for a particular device and to turn it off when it is charged assuming the device has a battery. That is what Greenplug is looking to provide but in a universal fashion. The Greenplug Green Power Processor (GPP) is at home in a Greenplug hub (Fig. 2) that is the universal power source. The usual two wire power supply is augmented with a third Greenwire that provides bidirectional communication between the GPP and the load controller. The latter can be a GPP, a stripped down GPP, a micro or an even simpler circuit depending upon the system requirements. The smarter the load controller, the more functionality that can be included.

That's it for now. This collection of articles is not exhaustive even though we were exhausted when the week was done. Check out all the Engineering TV CES 2011 videos if you get a chance.

About the Author

William G. Wong | Senior Content Director - Electronic Design and Microwaves & RF

I am Editor of Electronic Design focusing on embedded, software, and systems. As Senior Content Director, I also manage Microwaves & RF and I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, programmers, developers and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

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Check out my blog, AltEmbedded on Electronic Design, as well as his latest articles on this site that are listed below. 

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I earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters in Computer Science from Rutgers University. I still do a bit of programming using everything from C and C++ to Rust and Ada/SPARK. I do a bit of PHP programming for Drupal websites. I have posted a few Drupal modules.  

I still get a hand on software and electronic hardware. Some of this can be found on our Kit Close-Up video series. You can also see me on many of our TechXchange Talk videos. I am interested in a range of projects from robotics to artificial intelligence. 

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